Mathew Sawyer – How Snakes Eat – CD


“Yeah. I love this record” Everett True on Mathew Sawyer and the Ghosts previous album ‘Blue Birds Blood’ If you were to make maps of the human voice, Mathew Sawyer is someone you’d baulk at starting with. A vocal cartographer would have an easier ride with an X-Factor pop vocalist. The resultant sketch would be of somewhere abstract, featureless and dull. A moneybound R&B diva might lead to an Ordinance Survey Map of a smooth and well functioning future city with symmetrical civic parks and equidistant train stations. The growl of a death metal bellower would reveal itself in a landscape of Tolkienesque volcanoes, castles and dragons lairs. The map of Mathew Sawyer’s voice would defy all sense and reason. Only a master map maker would want to tackle such a strange object. Perhaps this city would be impossible to get round and feature magic hills that cars would roll up instead of down. Great tectonic rumbles would change the direction of streets on a daily basis. Nothing would be to scale. A tiny lizard from the zoo would escape to rampage down the main drag eating busses and lorries as it went. The more dysfunctional a visiting alien might find someone’s singing voice, the more soul, sensitivity and true emotion that some of us can detect. In the UK especially from Ian Curtis to Mark E. Smith to Billy Childish, we’ve rightly found rich seams of gold in the cracks in these vocals. Found beauty hiding behind the odd bum note and dignity within the strange phrasing. Just because Sawyer’s voice is odd, doesn’t mean he falls back lazy with melodies. Originality squared is something infinite. After the cult success of ‘Blue Birds Blood’ in 2008, Sawyer and his Ghosts are back again with eleven new songs and as he laments on ‘The Revenge Of The Extra From Zulu’: “I tore a map into two, to make a jigsaw for you/ it showed the way to my heart, you fucked the directions.” But this is no indie-schmindie slab of tweecore. The song ‘Mynah Birds Call’ is a cello heavy hymn with overtones of Ennio Morricone arranging for The Pastels. ’Diamonds’ summons up the missing spirit of Lawrence from Felt to add vocals to something that is part herky-jerky new wave and part English folk. And ‘She, The Farrey Tree’ with its pots and pans rhythm section and clanking backwards reel presents Sawyer as an English Tom Waits – albeit an English Tom Waits with an iron deficiency. In the contours, peaks and troughs of ‘How Snakes Eat’ there is real, earthy beauty. Give yourself up to the spectral charms of Mathew Sawyer and the Ghosts.

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